Air Canada will resume flights from Vancouver to Hawaii next month, after a deal was made allowing its passengers to be exempted from the U.S. state’s 14-day COVID-19 travel quarantine.
Air Canada spokesman Timothy Liu said daily flights will begin Dec. 17 — with four flights a week to Maui and three to Honolulu.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Air Canada had joined other airlines — including WestJet — in the government’s Trusted Travel program, which allows passengers into Hawaii without a quarantine as long as they board with a negative test result (from a test taken no more than three days before departure.)
“Hawaii has the most rigorous pre-travel testing program in the United States, and we’re grateful to Air Canada and WestJet for making it available to their passengers,” Ige said. WestJet flights to Hawaii will commence Dec. 19.
“Many Canadians love to visit Hawaii during the winter months to escape the cold weather, so the timing for this works well,” he said.
Hawaii’s COVID-19 curve has stayed relatively flat since its peak in August. On Monday, there were 114 new cases reported across the islands and no deaths (250 people have died so far.)
In B.C. on Monday, there were 594 cases reported. Seventeen people died between noon Friday and noon Monday (with 348 total deaths so far.)
Film-and-TV-industry workers on productions in B.C. are privately tested regularly using a nasal swab by provider LifeLabs. Public COVID-19 testing in B.C. is done using either a nasal swab or a saline gargle. At the moment, 30 per cent of tests done in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions are gargle. Test results come back anywhere from 12-36 hours later, depending on the health region. Northern Health takes the longest, while Island Health is the shortest.
B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said rapid tests had too many downsides to be used generally in the public health system, including that they’re not as accurate and may not show positive just before the onset of symptoms.
“It is not a panacea,” Henry said. “It is not what is going to solve our issues because the (rapid) tests have faults and limitations and you have to test everybody every day.” Henry was referring to the use of rapid testing at long-term care facilities.
On Monday, Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce said that once it was widely available, a COVID-19 vaccination would be required for all international travellers on his airline. The International Air Transport Association is working on a Travel Pass app that can be linked to your passport and provide proof of COVID-19 test results and vaccine inoculation.
Regular flight-exposure notices are posted on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website for flights coming into Vancouver airport, which is the only airport in B.C. allowed to accept foreign flights.
Between Nov. 1 and 18 there were 75 domestic flights in-or-out of Vancouver with a COVID-19 exposure.
Of the 21 international flights into Vancouver with a COVID-19-sick person on-board, most came from U.S. airports, as well as London, England, Delhi, Frankfurt and Mexico City.
Before travelling back to Canada, all travellers must plan for their mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which starts on the date they arrive.